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Mommy Can I Have It?

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

Children are great at breaking a budget, but it's important to set boundaries. What do you do when your child asks for something that is financially out of the question? There are a few options for the famous "Can I have this?" question.


"Can I have this gaming system?"

Game systems are overly expensive, so this question is often dreaded by parents. This might be the perfect time to teach your child about budgeting and saving. Try to create a plan that will work for everyone and allow the child to save for the system himself. This is the time that the 50:50 deal works well. Offer to match the child's savings dollar for dollar.

If a new system is out of the question (This may be a yearly question in your household.) try a different approach. Have the child make a list of reasons why this gaming system is better than the previous system. Then, create a list of all the things that go with the system and tally the cost. Couldn't the money be better spent? Ask your child why he thinks you've said no to the request and then use this opportunity to look into each others' thoughts.


"I want the Princess birthday party!"

Birthday parties are expensive enough, but then the designer party theme comes into question and it gets even worse. Paper plates with Barbie on them can be $3 or more for a set of eight plates. This is the chance to break the lure of designer advertising.

No one said she can't have the princess birthday party; it just needs to be done on a budget. Present the total amount to your child and allow her to help you budget. Maybe the budget will allow solid colored pink plates and napkins and Princess cups. By selecting certain places to splurge, the theme will be present but not overly done.

Another option could be to make her own decorations. Cut pictures from magazines and create a collage, get out craft supplies and make some center pieces - anything to create a theme.


"This is the outfit that I have to have!"

A teenage parent's dread - the designer label. Children need to learn that labels and names aren't important. Quality of person and item is what counts not labels and names, and this is the moment you can teach it. Try to discuss with children what labels mean and why these items demand such high prices. It can be a simple or more advanced economic lesson, but it's a good time to learn it.

Face it, teenagers can be tough. If the discussion about brand names isn't working, try some another option. Most styles go in and out pretty quickly. Check your local second hand or consignment shop for brand name tags. Eventually you can explain this logic to your teen and learn that lesson, but for now this patch will work.


"Mommy, please!"

It's so hard to say no to pleading little faces, even when we know we have to say it. Yet, saying it teaches a great lesson about waiting and living without. Try to impart this thought on the little minds that toddle with you in the stores. Often, telling a story that teaches the lesson helps to explain it to a child. Keep toys organized and eliminate those that aren't played with regularly. Involve children in doing this; it teaches them about limiting their belongings and being responsible buyers.

Overall, saying no to children and teens isn't easy. While you may want to teach a valuable lesson, you may also be treated to a pouting session. Stand your ground and remind yourself what it is that you're trying to accomplish. The store may not be the best place for the economics lesson, but try to find a calmer moment to have the discussion and then use it as a point of reminder the next time a problem rises.

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May 7, 20070 found this helpful

I know this depends on size availability, but with clothes, we have a store Ross' (like TJ Maxx or Gordmann's in the midwest) and you can buy designer, well-made clothes for the same price as the stuff at Walmart (and sometimes Goodwill). And the clearance is much better!


All of our thrift stores carry stuff from the Outlet stores too, which can cost the same as thrift store prices!

For electronics and other "big ticket" we save those for Christmas and Birthday....and shop online where you can do price comparison much quicker! I don't use Ebay anymore for personal reasons, but Overstock and are great for deals. And craigslist if you can get through the bull....we have had felonies committed due to our Portland listings.

We make it a point in our home to use commercials as the teaching moment when it comes up (rarely) and our regular shopping is quite regimented. We have been consistent in the grocery stores (eat before going in, keep my cookie baking promises, etc) but we'll see with the baby!

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By guest (Guest Post)
May 8, 20070 found this helpful

i think the best defense against this type of thing is to give children choices and let them work for the extras. it teaches each child not only the value of money but also of there time and efforts.

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May 11, 20070 found this helpful

My kids have to pick up 1 bucket of sticks in the yard to earn $1. Now they judge the cost of items in buckets of sticks! "That Barbie costs 10 buckets of sticks!"

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May 11, 20070 found this helpful


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March 7, 20120 found this helpful

What do you tell them? Call Grandma. LOL

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